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Report Claims Tesla Deliberately Under-Reported Worker Injuries

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Tesla’s response describes the report as an “ideologically motivated attack.”

Tesla is once again coming under fire for its allegedly poor factory working conditions. Over the last couple of years, worker injury rates at the automaker's factory in Fremont, California, have been higher than the industry average. In 2017, Tesla reported a significant drop in work-related injuries, bringing the company in-line with the rest of the auto industry. However, a damning report published by Reveal claims the company has been deliberately under-reporting the number of employees injured at the factory.

As part of its investigation, Reveal interviewed dozens of current and former employees including managers and reviewed hundreds of documents to uncover the truth about Tesla's working conditions – and its findings are rather eye-opening if true. According to the report, the Fremont factory is a "chaotic factory floor" where style and speed is prioritized over safety. The article claims the company has "failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports" to make the injury books look better than they really are. Sprains, strains and repetitive stress injuries were often listed as personal medical issues or minor incidents instead of work-related injuries, according to the report.

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"By law, if something at work contributed to an injury – even if work wasn't the only cause – the injury must be counted," the publication said. In another allegation, Reveal alleges the company used hoists that weren't inspected before use, which resulted in repeated accidents. Several former employees also told the publication they had to work up to 12 hour shifts while dealing with faulty equipment, inadequate training, and coming up with workarounds to get cars out the door. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also apparently "does not like the color yellow." As a result, the color isn't used at the plant to warn workers about potential hazards.

On the same day the report was published, Tesla has posted a lengthy response to the allegations. "We welcome constructive criticism, but those who care about journalistic integrity should strive for the truth above all," the company said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the writers at Reveal have published an article that paints a completely false picture of Tesla and what it is actually like to work here." Tesla described the report as an "ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla."

The report suggests Tesla doesn't accurately track injuries or that we mislabeled or undercounted injuries to make our record look better than it actually is. We believe in transparency and would never intentionally misrepresent our safety record to our employees or the public." The statement goes on to say that Tesla did properly record the injuries shown by Reveal and that the report shows "a lack of understanding about how injury reporting works." It even accuses Reveal's reporters of harassing Tesla employees and ignoring what was said by current Tesla employees.

This is not to say that there aren't real issues that need to be dealt with at Tesla or that we've made no mistakes with any of the 37,000 people who work at our company," Tesla continued in its response. "However, there should be absolutely no question that we care deeply about the well-being of our employees and that we try our absolute hardest to do the right thing and to fail less often."